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Film Reviews

Review: Malnazidos. Powerful and hilarious

  • Release year: 2020
  • Directors: Alberto de Toro and Javier Ruiz Caldera.
  • Producers: Álvaro Agustín and Cristian Conti.
  • Screenplay by: Jaime Marqués, Cristian Conti, and Manuel Martín.
  • Cinematographer: Kiko de la Rica.
  • Music by: Javier Rodero.

Synopsis: during the Spanish Civil War, a group of people from both sides of the conflict are forced to collaborate in order to survive a zombie invasion.

Shotgun commentary: this “The Walking Dead meets the tragedy of Guernica” film is as thrilling as it is moving. The mixture of humour and Spanish culture with Hollywood worthy special effects make this one of the best Spanish sci-fi movies I’ve ever seen.

Fig. 1. A group of survivors surrounded by zombies in a republican camp.
Source: Malnazidos (Alberto de Toro and Javier Ruiz Caldera, 2020).

Review

The plot of this movie is a sci-fi horror classic: a group of demographically-inclusiveish survivors need to overcome their differences and work as a team to survive a zombie invasion. While the story of zombies created to be weapons in wars is not original at all (Resident Evil franchise comes to mind), it IS refreshing to see such a story in Spanish cinema, with all the cultural references, mannerisms and influences that it entails.

Survivors pointing at each other with their weapons, image for the review of Malnazidos
Fig. 2. Survivors point their weapons at each other because they are from different sides in the war and sometimes being attacked by zombies is just not enough to unite people. As explained in this review, Malnazidos shows very accurate situations. Source: Malnazidos (Alberto de Toro and Javier Ruiz Caldera, 2020).

The combination of characteristics like emotional realism and autocritic, so inherent to Spanish cinema, with American-blockbuster worthy special effects is a very ingenious idea that leads to a really interesting experience. In addition to that, the insertion of this type of narrative into such a controversial and important moment in Spanish history as it is the Civil War, provides a twist that distinguishes the film and makes it stand out from others of the same genre.

Fig. 3. Jan (Miki Esparbé) awaits his execution. Source: Malnazidos (Alberto de Toro and Javier Ruiz Caldera, 2020).

A fictional déjà vu

Now, I’m sure I’m not the first one to say it but, as a Spanish person who has studied Spanish history at school, isn’t the nazis testing weapons on Spanish civil population during the Civil War a bit of a déjà vu? For all you international readers who are not aware of this, the fascist side negotiated an attack on civil population in the village of Guernica so that the nazi forces could test some of their weapons, so the plot of the movie feels a lot like a sci-fi version of the actual tragedy. This resemblance provokes a more visceral reaction in the audience, especially if said audience is Spanish. It’s hard not to get the chills or feel a burning rage in your stomach in certain moments of the film.

The inhabitants of a village slaughtered by the nazis to test their new weapon. This shot reminds of Goya's paintings and of course Picasso's Guernica, image for this review of Malnazidos.
Fig. 4. The inhabitants of a village slaughtered by the nazis to test their new weapon. This shot reminds of Goya’s paintings and of course Picasso’s Guernica, as explained in this review of Malnazidos. Source: Malnazidos (Alberto de Toro and Javier Ruiz Caldera, 2020).

Great finale

Lastly, it’s very important that I highlight in bright colours the great joy I experienced at the end of the movie. Not because it was over, but rather because of the how. I am so used to American zombie movies and their endings that a completely realistic ending among the main characters really threw me off! It’s the kind of thing you never knew you needed until you got it. The perfect plausible ending.

Fig. 5. The group of survivors encounter their first zombie. Source: Malnazidos (Alberto de Toro and Javier Ruiz Caldera, 2020).

What’s your take on Malnazidos?

I would love to know your opinions about Malnazidos and this review so don’t hesitate to comment below or leave a message in my contact page! For more reviews and cinema related articles check out the rest of my blog! 😀

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